Is Feral a Phase?

I love my daughter. I really do. With all my heart and soul. But sometimes . . . sometimes I just want to leave her by the side of the road so my mom will pick her up and take her home like any other stray. We were at a restaurant, eating a fabulous meal, filling our bellies in preparation for a fabulous fireworks show. I looked over, and my precious six-year-old was twirling a linguine noodle in the air. Marinara sauce covered her face and shirt. She was eating with her fingers and mouth open, napkin discarded and unused on the table, and her chair was so far away from the table I was surprised she could reach her food at all.

When did this happen? Story used to have good manners. Not superb, I’ll admit (she still uses the back of her hand more often than her napkin), but she certainly didn’t cause restaurant patrons to stare and tablemates to lose their appetites. In that glance, I saw a child I didn’t recognize, a feral changeling.

She’s also turned to baby talk more often, usually when she wants something. You all know how much Story talks and how much I detest baby talk. She didn’t even use baby talk when she was a baby. The past couple of months have offered more proof of this savage transformation, but I won’t gag you with the details. (Also, Story would never forgive me for sharing.) Normally I would chalk this aggravating behavior up to Story trying to get under my skin, which she is very blatant about doing. But this is different. She’s not using it as a weapon; she’s wearing it as a characteristic.

Friends, I need your help. I’m hoping you will tell me that this is just a phase. Regression happens sometimes, right? Could she have bumped her head and affected the part of her brain that controlled civilized manners? How do I get my daughter back? Do I have to start all over? Will she live as a changeling forever? Help!